Mesut Ozil won’t play for Arsenal again.
Turning the page on a chapter filled with excellence, controversy and criticism, we move on. Naturally, the term ‘successor’ will be flung around carelessly in the hopes that someone else can reach the level he once assumed, but while there will never be another Mesut Ozil, there is an Emile Smith Rowe waiting in the wings.
All at Arsenal know full well about the Englishman’s talents. Demonstrating them both in the youth sides, his 12 senior outings and on loan, Ozil’s omission won’t suddenly springboard Smith Rowe into playing first team minutes.
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Ozil was never involved anyway, so it changes little, yet at a point where that conversation can finally be put to bed, focus can be shifted towards those who can actually offer something of worth to the club.
Deciding against loaning him out for the 2020/21 campaign was a choice of Mikel Arteta’s to provide game time to the 20-year-old. At a point where the Spaniard has been under no illusions of the need to strengthen his squad, the fact he’s cast an admiring glance Smith Rowe’s way highlights the belief he has in his ability.
We’re not so fond of him anymore, but Unai Emery saw this, too. Say what you want about him, but he had faith in the youngsters – Bukayo Saka has thanked him dearly for his chance.
In the Arteta mantra of ever-changing positions, Smith Rowe has the stage set for his own virtuoso performance. Whether in the hole or out wide, his eye for the ingenious set him apart from the norm. Someone who can operate in forward positions capably and is adept with either foot is a manager’s dream.
Chances in the Premier League may be less forthcoming, but for the Europa League there is no reason why the midfielder shouldn’t be a common feature. I wouldn’t even suggest he sit on the bench. Let him start matches – Rapid Vienna away perhaps not – and justify Arteta’s trust.
One of a growing crop of stars who’s in with a genuine chance of forming the future of Arsenal.